John Lincoln Wright and the Sour Mash Boys

John Lincoln Wright - R.I.P.

R.I.P. John Lincoln Wright – January, 2012

He had been on a long downward slide in the past few years. His memorial service will be held at First Parish in Cambridge, Harvard Square, a stone’s throw from the clubs we played many a night. I will be there, and hope to see many old friends.

My first look at the band

On a summer night in 1972, I sat at a front table at King’s in Harvard Square with my girlfriend Judy, looking up at the high stage and thinking, “what a bunch of gigantic dudes.” In actual fact, Lincoln, as we called him, was short and slight and only projected “big” from the stage. McDonald, however, was genuinely tall, and built link a linebacker. Ray Jacques was over 6 feet.

I joined just a few weeks after it started up. There was a lot of talk about going to Austin, which was then, as now, a hotbed of the kind of music we were playing. We had plenty of work in New England, and elsewhere in the northeast. We worked from Canada down to New York, clubs, fraternities, concerts, showcases, and even once in the Boston Garden, opening for the J. Geils Band. But I think we would have gone to Austin a second, and only John Lincoln Wright’s desire not to leave the Boston area—he was a dyed-in-the-wool Yankee—kept it from happening.

What would that have happened if we’d gone to Austin?. It’s hard to imagine. My whole life would have been different. I wouldn’t have the same wife. My daughters wouldn’t exist. Who knows whether I would have become a writer? I know it’s an SF cliche, but sometimes I believe all those alternative live arcs are more than just mind games.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Joanne T November 3, 2010 at 10:57 pm

Bill, I last got together with Ray when he was working for Harvard in the early ’80’s. He looked ill then & often wonder what happened to him. Lost touch with his parents in Sanford too! Am sorry to learn about John McD and his illness. The early / mid 70’s are full of great memories. Joanne formerly from Medford.

2 Bill November 4, 2010 at 3:07 pm

Hey, Joanne. I heard from Peggy McDonald that Ray was dead, but she didn’t know more than that. He packed a lot of living into his life, however long he was around, and he might have just run out of gas.

3 Ray December 15, 2010 at 3:02 am

Any word from/about Lincoln.
I lost track about ten years ago and try to find him from time to time.
We had a mutual friend that used to hang at the Smoke House in Brookline but he’s not been around for a while either.

4 Bill December 15, 2010 at 9:55 am

He lives in Central Square, by himself. Kind of weak now, no longer does any performing. However he sang a couple of songs at John McDonald’s CD release party. He’s in a couple of pics in the gallery–very slight, grey beard, old-style Red Sox cap:

5 Ray J January 12, 2011 at 8:38 pm

Joanne not dead. Alive and well in St Pete FL. still have the petal to the metal. Not time to slowdown yet. Been looking for you for while. where you at.

6 Ray J January 12, 2011 at 8:42 pm

To Peggy,Bill and Joanne. Still alive and well in St. Pete Fl. Have petal to the metal as always. Never time to slow down. Joanne , would be nice teo hear from you agIN.

7 Bill January 14, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Ray! You’re not dead! Awesome. That means, due to our stop-smoking deal 37 years ago, you owe me, let’s see….$82.5 million dollars. I’ll take it in cash.

8 Ray J December 4, 2011 at 2:25 am

Bill, Bill Bill. I’ve been cig free for almost 4 decades now. Hope you have been too. Congrats on all your success.

9 Chris Templeton December 4, 2011 at 9:39 pm

I too saw John at Kings in the 70’s. I just learned that John passed away. Thanks for your music and yourself.

10 Bo Lowney December 5, 2011 at 8:56 am

Sadly, I can confirm that “Lincoln” passed away yesterday.

11 pat December 17, 2011 at 8:17 am

Does anyone know when and where a memorial service for John will be held? There was mention in the Boston Globe tht the family would have a celebration of his life. I have been e-mailing reporters etc. but unable to get any information.


12 Bill December 17, 2011 at 7:03 pm

There is talk of a memorial service and/or get-together, and I know for certain John wouldn’t want to go without a good party, but nothing has been finalized yet. Maybe after the New Year. Whenever it’s a sure thing, I will post it loud & clear on this blog and elsewhere.

13 bob wright-johns brother January 10, 2012 at 11:50 am

The memorial will be Saturday January 21 at 11:00 at the First Church in Harvard square.(looking at teh front of the coop its about 75 yds or so to the right. There will then be a gathering at Sally O’s from 1-3. Thanks for caring. Rob

14 bc lyon January 17, 2012 at 12:29 pm

Hi Bob, we’re so sorry for your loss. We loved your brother and his music. Could you tell me more about the church memorial Saturday? ‘First Church in Cambridge’ is on Garden St. The one on Mass Ave up from the Coop is called ‘First Parish Cambridge’. They’re both in Harvard Square. Which one is it? Thanks so much and see you Saturday.
Barbara & Steve

15 Bill January 17, 2012 at 6:31 pm

That would be the First Parish in Cambridge, at 1446 Mass Ave. Directions pretty much the way Bob described it: about 75 yards North of the Coop, at the corner of Church Street.

16 bc lyon January 21, 2012 at 10:26 am

thanks so much, we’ll see you there.

17 bob wright January 23, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Nice to see all the folks at the church. Thanks so much. It meant so much I met many of John’s friends. Needed more time for conversation. Thanks.

18 Michael Drust October 9, 2013 at 7:31 am

Bill, such fond memories of you and JLW&SMBs – gigs all over Cambridge, especially ’73-’75. Recall you opening for Michael Murphy at the Music Hall. Thanks for all the good music back then. Glad you are still around! md.

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